30 Universal Symbols and Meanings: How to Use Them in Design
October 29, 2020 | 0 min read
What is it about the symbols that intrigue people so much? Humans have been in awe of them, have incorporated them, after all, since the beginning of time.
Symbolism, or semiotics, as it is called in scientific fields, performs a significant place in social interaction because people are continually searching for a hidden truth. In our conversation, we introduce this term, whether in the stars, painted on the cave wall, or in the current graphic content, by adding and illustrating the symbols.
If you are a designer, a filmmaker, a writer, or any artist of sorts, you must already be aware of how symbolism is used to convey messages.
To help build quality content that sparks the perfect communication in your audience, Glorify brings 30 symbols that all designers should be familiar with.
30 Common Symbols and Meanings
Ravens feast on dead so the viewers can automatically associate it with a negative emblem. The sign can be used to predict demise and tragedy. As a creature that eats on rotting corpses, the raven has secured itself as a symbol of violence and suffering in the imagination of man. The imagery of ravens is so familiar that it is associated with today’s audience as a dark symbol.
Dove has been used as a symbol of harmony or a calm mindset. It can be used in a theological sense to symbolize salvation and spirituality. The dove is also connected with healing, relaxation, and goodness. It has been so common that major world religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, have been using the symbol as the purest expression of peace, love, and holiness. Dove has also become correlated with pacifism and the termination of the war in the recent era.
Butterflies, signify change. Throughout the world, in both mythology and art, the butterfly is depicted as a sign of development and transition, due to its transformation from a wormish chenille to a beautiful insect with brightly colored wings. In some traditions, this prominent insect is a symbol of the spirit and is used in mythical stories to indicate the presence of somebody who died or to indicate the prospect of the afterlife.
Crosses are the emblem of faith and recovery. Culturally, the four points of the cross reflect self-nature, intelligence, and spiritual force. Across the world, the cross is connected to Christianity, faith, salvation, liberation, and the ability to heal. More precisely, it is Jesus’ triumph over evil and suffering on the cross. The Red Cross is widely used as an emblem for clinical and emergency relief staff in war zones and the event of an emergency.
While illustrating a visual narrative, an owl is used to reflect the intellect of a protagonist or a message to be taught. Its ancient significance as a symbol however is the idea that the owl has always followed Athena, the Greek goddess of learning. In Native American cultures, the owl is perceived as a creature of the night, synonymous with the paranormal and even mortality.
A raging fire can symbolize rage, revenge, and devastation. Interestingly, it can also mean resurrection, as in the tale of the Phoenix. As a major part of the growth of culture in human history, fire is commonly seen as a sign of many meanings: a flame may mean strength and intelligence.
Rain is a symbol of sorrow and depression. Rain is generally associated with sorrow and misery. It’s simple to explain why: the rainy weather also creates feelings of drowsiness, isolation, and unhappiness. Rain can also symbolize rejuvenation as it drains away pollution and destruction. It could also symbolize the purification of the human soul.
8. Peace sign
It was crafted in the 1950s as a symbol of the British nuclear effort. It was eventually accepted by the anti-war movement. A variation of the object cues for the letters “N” and “D,” which represent “nuclear disarmament.”
9. Occult and symbols
Relating to the experience of the unseen and the mysterious, the supernatural is connected to the paranormal, which stretches past rational thinking. Meaning “secret” or “unknown,” the occult draws attention to the supernatural phenomenon and the hauntings; simply, anything that surpasses the boundaries of scientific rationality. Occult symbols may vary from those used in sorcery and occultism to the Kabbalah and other mysterious beliefs.
Most popular and widely, it essentially means “love,” but this famous symbol in art and design can signify bravery, integrity, and compassion. Hearts may also have a religious meaning, such as when they have been shown covered by fire or thorns. It can have many more intricate interpretations; it has several variations that have developed over time.
Skulls quite often cultivate a sense of terror and despair. That’s why they’re used to describe toxic materials as a sign of risk. After all, if we see a skull, it means that any person has expired. Meaning is the essence, just like other signs. The symbols have a lot of significance in today’s societies.
The astrological sign reflecting the moon, the crescent, symbolizes a fresh start and the fulfillment of desires. The use of the crescent moon as a symbol resembles Islam for several centuries. In fact, the symbol was used by primitive civilizations in Central Asia and Siberia to honor the gods of the sun, moon, and sky.
It is a symbol of hope, virtue, honesty, and awakening. In religion, light is also connected with immorality and supreme energy. Light is a sign of happiness and life-giving strength, as darkness is a sign of violence and suffering. Thus, light is also connected with liberation.
The shield of kindness and wisdom connected with light, darkness, illustrates the negative, the mysterious, and the bad. Much as yin is to yang, darkness and light represent two contrasting factors of life, both positive and negative, wisdom and prejudice, affection and hatred, and joy and misery.
Popular as the “king of the jungle,” the lion is a symbol of power, aristocracy, and supremacy. And is used in spirituality to portray God as the King.
Representing elegance, harmony, and sophistication in ancient Greece, the Swan is often connected with passion, literature, and composition.
As a sign of uncertainty and formation, spiders may also reflect the authority to develop truth through our choices.
The wolf is also used as a symbol of integrity, guardianship, power, democracy, and liberty. It can also be depicted as maturity and intelligence.
Although the old Norse word means “pirate” or “raider,” it can also be related to ideas such as energy, wizardry, and money.
Phoenix, a mythical creature, is known to rise from its own ruins. Thus, it implies regeneration, creation, and life.
One of the most respected symbols of Asian mythology, the dragon depicts strength, leadership, knowledge, fortune, and enchantment.
Identified as disciples of God in spirituality, angels reflect guardianship, faith, security, and kindness.
A traditional sign of the egg is linked with new life, pregnancy, development, divinity, and success capacity.
A very well-known icon, witches signify wickedness and gloom, the paranormal and cruelty of human souls.
A friendly and hugging breed, the rabbit is also linked to issues such as love, security, stability, and birth.
In astrology, every planet depicts things. Although Venus symbolizes affection, attractiveness, and culture, Mercury portrays intelligence and intent.
The star around which Earth and other planets spin, the sun stands for existence, creation, strength, insight of fame, and dream.
While a tree which symbolizes fertility and existence, a forest is a sign of the mystery of the unseen and the unaware.
A gorgeous and extravagant bird, the peacock is also correlated with glamour, enlightenment, dignity, self-expression, and honesty.
Other than being connected with love and intimacy, the rose was also used to portray the country, as in the Wars of the Roses. The Romans worshipped the rose as a sign for their love goddess, Venus, and the Greeks connected the emblem with the deity of love, Aphrodite.
Designers utilize the following symbols and signs to:
• Add a bit of imagination to their illustrations
• Make presentations more interesting and participating;
• Split text material in dense papers
• Help users browse the web
Tell us in the comment section below which of the symbols you’ve found intriguing, and if you have any symbol that’s interesting but isn’t on the list above, don’t hesitate to let us know so that we can add it to our list.